The three winners of K-Global Demo Day were VR eye-tracking startup Visual Camp, conversational AI startup MrS.ai and blockchain money remittance startup Moin. K-Global demo day is part of the South Korean government’s effort to foster interaction between South Korean startups and Chinese startups.
On the day itself, December 12, five Chinese startups and 10 Korean startups climbed on stage at Shanghai’s Jin Jiang Hotel to pitch to five judges including Strikingly CEO David Chen, partner at NIO Capital Junyi Zhang, Vice President of Sky9 Capital (云九资本), Fred Young and Professor and Adviser to International BU, III. C. Jimmy Shih. The event was hosted by K-ICT Born2Global Centre, a startup incubator operated by South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and organized by Shanghai-based startup accelerator XNODE.
“There are two startups winning second place. Moin, the first one, is using an emerging technology that could disrupt the current system. Although China has a very strict law on financial matters, she is accepting new technology until proved otherwise. The next one, MrS.ai, uses a natural language technology specializing in Mandarin, that could better fit to the Chinese market,” Professor and Adviser to International BU, III. C. Jimmy Shih commented on each company as he announced the winners of the demo day. “The first place goes to VisualCamp whose technology will be a strike to most mobile commerce in the future.”
“There were also high tech companies like Moin that focus on blockchain tech and building channels to transfer money. The bitcoin price has exceeded $10,000, but is really hard to work on it in China. Korea is special market, and has the potential for its bitcoin market to be the largest in the world,” Vice President of Sky9 Capital, Fred Young commented. Sky9 Capital runs a US dollar fund in China focusing on early stage internet companies and innovative companies in consumer and technology sectors, and has offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Silicon Valley.
“As for AI, it’s hard to handle Mandarin in AI, since it’s a much more complicated language. So MrS.ai has a very unique competitiveness and has the chance to win in the market. For Chinese startups, the AI market is large and a lot of companies and brands need AI services.”
Here is our overview of the top three companies.
Eye tracking is crucial to both virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology-based verticals such as games, e-commerce, content, and social media. US eye tracking technology player Eye Tribe was acquired by Facebook, Eyefluence was acquired by Google in 2016, and SMI was acquired by Apple in 2017. South Korean startup VisualCamp is a VR eye-tracking technology provider and their technology is currently mounted on Samsung Electronics’ all-in-one-type Exynos VR HMD (head-mounted display). As VR HMD is moving from PC connected, mobile connected, then to all-in-on device, keeping low CPU occupation rate becomes important. On Exynos 8890, their technology takes less than 4% of CPU occupation rate. Compared to their competitors in the same arena, their solution run on all three HMDs including desktop, mobile and all-in-one, and runs on five operating systems, including Android, Windows, Linux, Linux Arm and Mac OS. Based on the eyeball and gaze data, the Seoul-based company also analyzes user intention.
Conversational AI, such as Siri and Cortana are now becoming a trend for brands and companies. These companies believe that future service delivery should be interactive and personalized for consumers, and are actively searching for localized professional solutions that provide in-depth AI technology while truly understand quality services, to help them innovate next-gen service experience.
MrS.ai develops Conversational AI solution for the service industry, designing virtual AI agents for multinational corporates to deliver professional-level services via conversation in Chinese. The virtual agents it designs can handle complicated consumer requests in Chinese with in-depth personalization, using technologies like service-sector-specialized SLU, the dynamic representation of professional knowledge and multi-task management, etc., aiming to disrupt the current use of AI in services. Visa China will launch a new AI-based concierge service in China in January 2018, powered by MrS.ai. At the same time, this Chinese AI company, with a clear business need and tech focus on services, is now working with international airlines, prestige hotel groups, and luxury brands in hospitality and mobility, to provide conversation-based services.
Moin is using blockchain technology to help its users transfer money to overseas countries. Targeting expat workers and students studying abroad, their remittance solution optimizes the process to make it cheaper, and faster, lowering the traditional remittance time by 90%. Their iOS app and website also offer realtime remittance fee comparison with four big commercial banks. For security, Moin follows KYC and AML protocols, and their security will be endorsed by a license issued this month by the South Korean government. During the Q&A, the company confirmed that they are not doing ICO of tokens and are focusing on their service provision. Established in March 2016, the Seoul-based company has raised $2.5 million in funding.
Blockchain is sensitive issue around the world, with some governments wanting to keep the regulation under the radar. However, blockchain is legal in South Korea, and a handful of Korean startups waded into this booming sector this year.
Comments and advice to other startups at the demo day
“There were a lot excellent entrepreneurs from China and Korea with good global perspective. For example, we can see that the iSharingsoft app is useful for a family that has a child,” Vice President of Sky9 Capital, Fred Young commented.
iSharingsoft is a real-time locator service allowing family members and close friends to privately share their location and communicate with each other.
“They were amazing and their products are impacting daily life. iSharingsoft, LIMA and Monit are very interesting,” Junyi Zhang, partner at NIO Capital told TechNode.
LIMA allows brands and companies to advertise their products inside famous web-novels and webtoons utilizing machine learning technology, and Monit is a smart baby-monitoring service, sensing diaper changes and environmental conditions and provides mobile notifications to parents.
“Some of the startups need bigger investors and industry players to help them expand to China. For example, LIMA needs a content company or platform to expand in China. iSharingsoft has been downloaded 300,000 times, that’s not bad. But China is already dominated by WeChat and Baidu Map, and they will have a hard time expanding in China. They really need partners to help them.”